Let’s Talk About Video Drones

Aerial Video Drone

A video drone is the new big thing in tech market, one of  the most exciting products of the 21st century’s electronic consumer industry. It’s not surprising, since people today love nothing more than to take photos and video, and what a better way to do it than from air.

There are several reasons why video drones are becoming widely popular. First of all, thanks to advancements in technology it is no longer that hard or that expensive to manufacture a drone. What was once mysterious stealth technology in the hands of the military, is now almost a normal, everyday product owned by your average Joe.

Actually, the technology to make a drone, even a consumer-ready drone, was already here much longer than the consumer drones themselves. Of course, there needed to be demand in order to have production.

Cameras have been developing rapidly since the rise of smartphones, action cameras and other compact system cameras, as well as DSLRs. Every year companies would push the technology a step further, in order to attract consumers with ‘the next big thing’. Remember the megapixel wars? All of this has made it possible to have impressive, but affordable video drones today.

In the broadest sense, they are all called UAVs, which stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. As the name says, these drones are unmanned, which means they are controlled remotely, using a computer or a remote controller. This is exactly the reason they are so attractive to everyone, be it for government, news stations, commercial companies or just normal consumers.

Drones are equally fun and useful. There is something mightily futuristic about being able to control a flying robot using a joystick. There was a time when a company had to rent a private airplane or a helicopter, and hire a professional pilot in order to get some aerial shots for commercial purposes. Today all it takes is a small video drone and a remote controller, which is so easy to operate that even children can do it.

Types of drones:

It is important to point out that out not all drones are the same and there are several different types. We are of course mainly interested in commercial drones, technically referred to as Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Furthermore, commercial drones consist almost entirely of quadcopters, or quadrotors, which is a small multi-rotor helicopter. They are propelled by four fixed pitched rotors. Each rotor is able to independently change its speed, thus enabling the control of flight direction.

Drones are also classified by drone packages, and this refers to the purchasing packages available at commercial retailers. There are two main classifications; RTF (Ready To Fly) and BTF (Bind To Fly).

RTF drones, like the name says, are ready to fly out-of-the-box. This is by far the most popular drone package, thanks to its simplicity. Consumers want it simple, and there is nothing more simple than a product which requires no further adjustments after purchasing, and is immediately ready to be used.

However, not all drone pilots are simple consumers looking to have fun or commercial aerial photographers looking to get the job done as fast as possible. There are many drone enthusiasts who are willing to put in some additional effort and hassle into preparing their perfect drone for flight. That is where BTF drones come into play. BTF drone package is actually a drone-only package, meaning you get a drone, but not a controller. Bind to Fly refers to binding, or connecting a remote controller to a drone. Since pilots don’t get a controller in the package they purchased, they are expected to have, or to make one of their own.

Drone cameras:

Similarity to BTF drones, which don’t come with a controller, not all drones feature a camera. For those interested in aerial photography and videography, you should buy yourself a drone which already has an integrated camera ready for recording. Other than that there are also drones with a camera-ready mount, this can be a sort of a universal mount or  a GoPro-ready mount. This way you can install a video camera of your choosing on your drone.

Of course, there is also the possibility of a DIY (Do It Yourself) drone, that is creating an improvised, homemade drone from scratch, and installing a camera of your choosing. If building an entire drone from scratch sounds like too much trouble, one could create an improvised mount on an existing drone.

As far as a video drone is concerned, the video camera is obviously the most important factor to consider. First thing to watch for there is video resolution, and just like in any camera market, there is a lot to choose from. An entry-level video drone only records sub-HD resolution who’s camera is used merely for flying with a first-person POV (Point of View). Other drone cameras offer standard 720p HD and 1080p Full HD resolutions. Just like action cameras, drone cameras have come a long way, with high end video drones now offering 2.7K or even Ultra HD 4K video recording.

Most video drone cameras come with an wide-angle lens in order to fit as much as possible in the view. Some of those cameras have a field of view of as much as 170°, which is so wide that it distorts the image, creating the famous fish-eye effect.

Video Drone Advanced features:

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Higher end video drones also feature some very interesting and useful automated functions. For example, using a signal from the controller, a drone is able to track the pilot. Some companies label this feature as a “Follow me mode”. Not only can the drone follow your location, but it also able face you at all times during tracking, which gives a unique perspective and an opportunity to shoot self videos.

Advanced video drones are also able to follow (and record) a previously designated trajectory along a two or more waypoints. There also functionalities such as hovering in once place, automatic lift off and landing, as well as some neat tricks such as 360-degree flips and others. In fact, there are drones which house an open source operating system, such as Linux, which are open to any kind of programming imaginable.

Video drones are very powerful tools for shooting aerial videos, be it for personal use or for commercial footage with broadcast quality. Drones themselves are very diverse, flexible devices which can be utilized in various ways to create high quality and unique video footage.

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